Christian Horner insists Max Verstappen will not be changing after again defending his driver following his clash with Lando Norris at last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion was handed a 10-second penalty for the incident on lap 64 with the pair fighting for the lead which resulted in them colliding and allowed Mercedes’ George Russell to sweep through for victory.

Speaking at Red Bull Racing headquarters in Milton Keynes ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, team principal Horner backed Verstappen’s approach and expects more close racing between him and McLaren rival Norris.

“I understand they’ve spoken already, I don’t think there is any issue,” Horner told Sky Sports News. “Certainly, from Max’s side, he’s not going to change.

“There’s an element, I think, of Lando learning how to race Max and they’re discovering that. Inevitably, there is going to be more close racing between the two of them as the cars look so close over the forthcoming races.

“Max is a hard racer – he’s probably one of the hardest racers on the circuit and everybody knows that if you’re going to race against Max, he’s going to give as good as he gets.”

Verstappen eventually finished fifth in Austria, although the clash brought an end to Norris’ race and McLaren team principal Andrea Stella was among those to fiercely criticise the Dutchman amid the fall-out at the Red Bull Ring.

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Anthony Davidson was at the SkyPad to give his verdict on whether Max Verstappen or Lando Norris was at fault for the crash which saw both of them surrender the chance of winning

However, Horner refuted Stella’s assertion that it was a direct result of Verstappen not being punished for incidents when he and Lewis Hamilton were fighting it out for the world title three years ago.

“He raced incredibly hard in 2021, he’s a tough racer, and he hasn’t really been racing anyone for two years because he’s been out front so much,” Horner said.

“The conflict between the two of them has been building over two, three, four races where they’ve been racing each other closely and hard, and at some point that was always going to spill over – and it did at Turn 3.

“He was punished in 2021 if he did something wrong just as Lewis, who he was racing so hard that year, was for things he did wrong.

“I think it’s wrong and unfair to label a driver like that and I’m sure in the heat of the moment it was frustrating for Andrea, but that’s just tough racing. He worked with Michael Schumacher [at Ferrari] for so many years – he of all people should know that.”

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Norris was left fuming after his collision with Verstappen saw him have to retire from the Austrian Grand Prix

As one of three British drivers on the grid, Norris will likely have sizeable support at Silverstone when Formula 1 rolls into the Northamptonshire circuit for the British Grand Prix this weekend.

Horner is not concerned about the possibility of Verstappen facing a hostile reception though.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a partisan crowd for the British drivers as it is for Max in Holland, but I think whenever we go to those tracks there is always respect for the other drivers,” Horner said.

“I hope Max gets a reasonable reception and I’m sure it’s going to be all orange again this weekend – perhaps not Max Verstappen fans, more McLaren fans.

“That’ll be water off a duck’s back to him, he’ll have his head down and he won’t change. He’s the racer he is and I’m sure he’ll race just as hard this weekend.”

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